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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Bitch Planet

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro have taken the tropes of the women-in-prison exploitation film and used them to create a comic book that is sharply feminist, imagining a world that is even more patriarchial than our world. I have read a copy of the first collection of the series Bitch Planet, subtitled Extraordinary Machine, which collects the first five issues.

De Landro's art work is stunning, capturing the look of B-movie posters, especially the covers. But it's DeConnick's writing that makes the comic really move. We have yet another dystopian world, but this one is completely controlled by men. The leaders are called "Fathers," and women can be jailed for being "non-compliant." If so they are sent to a planet that is one entire prison. They are urged to be compliant by images of idealized women.

The first five issues are something of a set-up, and my only criticism is that it hardly got started before it was over. The main character, Kam, is approached to pick a team to play a sport called Megaton, which looks like a cross between Rollerball and Rover, Red Rover. Of course, this is just a gimmick set up by the powers that be as publicity, but the prisoners are taking it seriously, including one called Fanny Rolle, who is a giant of a woman. She gets her own issue exploring her back story.

At the end of each issue, there is a parody of the ads that were in comic books in the old days, like for X-Ray Specs and Sea Monkeys, although these are all geared toward patriarchy, such as the "Gyno-Coin," which is used for hypnosis. "When they play fuck/marry/kill, you'll never be kill again!" The order blank has what looks like a real address in Portland, Oregon, so I'm not sure how much of a gag it is.

As you might imagine, this is not a comic book for kids. There is lots nudity and violence. There will be a second volume coming out called President Bitch, so I will continue to read the story., if only to know what comes next. Remember, kids, though this is science fiction, and even though we are on the cusp of having the first women president of the United States, there's still a long way to go, as long as we have female members of Congress saying that women don't really want equal pay.

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